Jimmy Butler refuted a report that he’s sitting out the Timberwolves’ Wednesday night game against the Jazz as a tactic to get traded out of Minnesota faster. Instead, he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols he’s sitting Wednesday’s game because “my body is hurting” after he missed all of training camp.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski reported earlier Wednesday that Butler would sit out the Jazz game because he had not been traded, and hinted Wolves’ All-Star could be out even longer.
But ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports Butler isn’t sitting for long. Instead, he reports the Wolves “suggested Butler rest” and that he’ll rejoin them on the flight to Oakland for the game against Golden State.
Butler confirmed that story to Nichols.
The Wolves, though, have only played one game since Oct. 26 and did not have practice on Tuesday. It’s odd that there are conflicting reports about this, especially since The Athletic’s report first was that Butler was sitting out in an attempt to further his trade request.
I am completely perplexed. As far as I can tell, this is Butler’s decision, and whether and when he rejoins the team is likely up to him as well, none of which is a good look for anyone involved, including the coach and management, who are apparently willing to let Butler call the shots here.
For a guy who claims to work harder than anyone and just wants his teammates to want to win as much as he does, this is a terrible look for Butler. He clearly doesn’t care, and isn’t even pretending to.
It’s a strange situation, but it’s a reminder of one thing:
Jimmy Butler wants out
And he’s wanted out for a long time. Tom Thibodeau, general manager Scott Layden and Wolves owner Glen Taylor each assured Butler they would move him, but Thibodeau and Layden haven’t found a deal they like.
Some opposing GMs have reportedly told the Wolves that their asking price is way too high. But Butler’s value hasn’t been higher than now, especially after his 32-point performance against the Lakers.
The NBA’s CBA does allow the Timberwolves to fine the All-Star forward for missing games without an injury, since he is under contract. As SB Nation’s Matt Ellentuck explained when referencing Kawhi Leonard’s situation, which never ultimately reached this point:
According to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, players’ base salaries can be reduced by 1/145 for up to 19 missed games — that includes exhibition, regular season and playoff games — and 1/110 of his base salary for the 20th missed game and beyond.
A player can also be fined for missing practices and promotional appearances. However, the Timberwolves have listed Butler as out for “general soreness and precautionary rest,” and Thibodeau denied any connection to Butler’s ongoing desire to be traded.
It appears as though Butler could return to play in any number of games he wants.
The situation, as it has through this saga, remains fluid. The Wolves do not play again after tonight until Friday. Possibility remains that Butler could return for that game if he’s not traded by then.— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) October 31, 2018
Butler could also continue to sit out, putting on display a Minnesota team that did not make the playoffs before trading for him and is not nearly as talented without him on the floor.
The Miami Heat and Houston Rockets have each reached out to the Wolves with interest in Butler, with the Rockets’ latest offer including four first-round draft picks. Things in Minnesota get more interesting by the week.
That won’t change until they finally trade Butler.